Auto industry accords spark optimism
Following successful contract negotiations, the auto industry and United Auto Workers (UAW) are now working closely together to clear away lingering pockets of worker resistance that could have a negative impact if not quickly resolved.
While the industry and the unions are optimistic about new contracts between the UAW and General Motors and Ford, each realizes the new contracts will not be automatically successful.
The bargaining situation on two fronts in the United States cleared over the past weekend:
* General Motors and UAW were relieved by the ratification of the Sept. 21 contract settlement by a 57.4 percent vote - 138,410 to 102,528, with about 100, 000 not voting. The large number who abstained in local union referendums was not considered serious, since failure to vote to ratify a contract is considered passive acceptance.
* Ford and UAW on the same day announced a tentative settlement that was similar to that between the union and GM. Ford's chief negotiator, Peter Pestillo, said differences from the GM contract included terms tailored by the union to fit Ford's smaller size and more limited circumstances. Ratification of the Ford contract by rank-and-file UAW members is expected.
In Canada, however, General Motors of Canada and UAW's Canadian district remained deadlocked over the weekend and the union set a Wednesday noon deadline for a strike that could quickly affect production in the United States because of GM's closely integrated operations. The UAW in Detroit will have to move cautiously in taking a role in the bargaining.
It cannot bring pressures to bear on Canadian locals to settle: Workers in Canada have strong nationalistic convictions (many favor breaking off affiliations with US unions).
In addition, job security and other provisions of the GM agreement in the US have no particular bearing in the tough bargaining over Canadian issues.